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Centuries of June    by Keith Donahue order for
Centuries of June
by Keith Donahue
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

First, here is a cut-and-paste overview of what other reviewers have said about Keith Donahue's latest fictional offering, a singular book inspired by the author's interest in Gustav Klimt's The Virgin, a painting depicting beautiful women intertwined in an erotic pose:

In 'what {otherwise} could {have} easily become a muddled mess' involving 'time travel and reincarnation,' Centuries of June is {instead} a 'tour de force,' 'part fantasy, part realism, part dream-vision,' most notable for such 'unusual circumstances' as a 'talking cat,' 'clocks that have stopped,' and 'high silliness.'

Second, while this reviewer enjoyed Donahue's first novel, The Stolen Child, here, however, is what this reviewer has to say reluctantly about Donahue's latest curious offering:

The intriguing and unusual but not altogether successful novel begins in a bathroom, with a man having sustained a mysterious death-defying injury, and then becomes an annoyingly tangled tale told by eight women. Apparently conceived as part historical epic, part soap opera, part folktale, part cultural myth, and part post-post-modern narrative experiment, Centuries of June - in the author's own words - becomes 'a mosaic,' 'a mash-up of ideas and images.' However, for this reviewer, the parts of this mosaic never seem to coalesce into a sensible, coherent whole but instead remain a curiously unsatisfying mash-up.

Third, more willing readers - depending upon their suspension of disbelief and their fascination with (and enjoyment) of 'a witty (though fragmented} style' that dominates the narrative in 'surprising and affecting ways' - may find themselves drawn into Donahue's 'captivating' adventure, and - in the end - such readers may find other reviewers' endorsements more persuasive and accurate than this unimpressed reviewer's humble assessment.

So, the bottom line is this: readers will either enthusiastically embrace or harshly reject Centuries of June. There is not likely to be a middle ground.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

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